UC Riverside is Considering EB-5 Funds to Help Build a New Campus Sports Arena

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EB-5 Investment Report's Aimee Rios just Interviewed Brian Wickstrom, Athletic Director for the University of California Riverside, on how they plan to use potential EB-5 funding to help build a new university sports arena.


The potential project is looking to be built at the current Brannockburn location, among others.

Investors have not been secured for the project because it is in its initial stages and it has yet to be approved by the UC Board of Regents.

Brian Wickstrom, the Athletic Director for the University of California, Riverside recently discussed, with Aimee Rios of EB-5 Investment Report, his efforts to finance an arena and why the project is a natural fit for Chinese investors.

The University of California, Riverside and its athletic director Brain Wickstrom are in the initial phases of proposing a 6,700 seat arena and 11,000 space parking structure on campus. “It’s something that has started moving down the path. Right now we’ve completed the site feasibility. It’s basically a basketball arena or multipurpose center because it will be volleyball and concerts along with a parking structure across the street,” Wickstrom said.

The project is expected to cost $80 million and Wickstrom said it qualifies for about $30 million in EB-5 financing. He decided to look into the EB-5 program as an alternative way to fund part of the project after he was introduced to the program by a colleague. Earlier this year he went to Shanghai, China to learn more about EB-5 with a development company, the Hopkins Real Estate Group. In China, Wickstrom gave presentations and said investors were very interested in the arena because it was a University of California project. He said, “The University of California and the University of California, Riverside are very well known in Shanghi, so automatically people are interested in the project.”

The awareness comes from UCR’s extension program that hosts students from different countries, like China, for a year of education.

Investors have not been secured for the project because it is in its initial stages and it has yet to be approved by the UC Board of Regents. Wickstrom is currently in the process of creating an RFP (Request for Proposal) for third party developers. He said it will be a private and public partnership and doesn’t not know if they will go through a regional center or the E-2 route. Because it’s early in the process, Wickstrom is not sure about the job creation make-up but said they will count the 2 to 3 year jobs that will be created during the construction of the project. This however may present a problem for potential EB-5 investors and USCIS’s job creation requirements, which state each investor, must create at least 10 full time permanent jobs. Those construction jobs may not count because they are not permanent and there has been much confusion and controversy on which jobs full-fill USCIS’s requirement and how those jobs are counted, so UCR and Wickstrom will have to do their due diligence to ensure the project meets those requirements.

Wickstrom is hoping to have the RFP done by the end of this year and expects to present the project, currently called the C-Center, to the UC Board of Regents for approval in 2013.

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Dwight Cromie

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